Laser Eye Surgery: Home or Abroad?
What could be better: going abroad and getting some sun, while and at the same time, saving money on a treatment you’ve been wanting to have for ages?
With the increase in low-cost treatments and flights abroad, more and more people each year are seeking treatments outside the UK.
In particular, Laser Eye Surgery and refractive lens surgeries make up a decent percentage of this “medical tourism”. As a treatment that can improve your vision permanently and be performed in just a matter of minutes, it’s no surprise why.
There’s no doubting there are many attractions to heading abroad for treatment. But the big question is, is it really worth the risk?
The cost of Laser Eye Surgery Abroad
There’s no denying that the actual price of Laser Eye Surgery itself can be lower if you travel to popular medical tourism destinations such as India or Thailand.
In the cheapest countries, you could even pay as little as a third of what the treatment may cost back home. And you don’t have to go too far for it—some European countries like Hungary and the Czech Republic offer very cheap Laser Eye Surgery.
The reasons for the lower costs are many. For instance, at a glance, such countries often have a lower cost of living, as well as a beneficial exchange rate.
However, on closer inspection, lower prices may also reflect the lack of training and experience of surgeons, as well as old or outdated technology, and substandard safety protocols.
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But sticking to cost, even though the actual price of the treatment may be lower, when you have Laser Eye Surgery abroad, soon the costs can begin to stack up.
As you begin taking into account extra costs, you can find the total cost of having Laser Eye Surgery abroad exceeds that of even the higher cost treatments in the UK.
Here are some of the main additional costs to consider when having Laser Eye Surgery abroad:
- Flights: A return ticket could cost you upwards of £500 per person. And we say per person because it’s recommended to have someone accompany you home from the clinic. This also excludes any repeat visits, such as aftercare check-ups.
- Accommodation: As you need to put yourself up while you’re there, you could pay up to £200 per night for accommodation. You also may need to be there for a week if not two, as you need to arrive in the country a few days before your treatment. It’s also advised not to fly until you’ve been signed off as fit to do so by your surgeon.
- Insurance: Standard medical insurance doesn’t cover medical treatment abroad. You’ll need to take out additional medical insurance which can cost anything between £45 and £180. This is important as if complications do arise from your treatment, you will not be covered unless you declared you were having it abroad.
- Days off work: The cost of time spent off work will vary from person to person, especially if you work for yourself or use accumulated holiday days. But if you need to take unpaid leave to fit around flights and treatment times, then you could lose more than you save.
- Follow-up appointments: As mentioned, you may be required to return to the clinic for follow up aftercare appointments with your surgeon. The costs of flights, accommodation, insurance, and days off work may therefore not be just a one-off expense. This should be factored into your overall calculation of costs.
The risks of having Laser Eye Surgery abroad
Many people have gone abroad for vision correction treatment and have come home happy.
However, the latest research from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) shows there is a higher risk of complications if you do have Laser Eye Surgery outside the UK.
One of the main reasons for this is that there tends to be fewer healthcare regulations in the destinations where Laser Eye Surgery is cheaper. On top of this, language barriers and exclusions of services that are considered as standard in many clinics in the UK, such as a comprehensive screening and aftercare support, can complicate things further.
Here are some of the key questions to ask the clinic when having Laser Eye Surgery either at home or abroad:
What are the surgeon’s qualifications?
There is no universal regulatory body for laser vision correction. This means, when having treatment abroad, it’s not only difficult to know the standard of a surgeon, but difficult to find out their exact training and who accredited their skills.
In the UK, there are more stringent rules in place. At the very least, all laser eye surgeons must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) in order to be able to practice. One of the best determiners of a successful laser eye treatment is the training and experience of the surgeon.
Will I meet the surgeon before the treatment?
When travelling abroad for surgery, there are many cost and time constraints that mean most surgeons only offer online consultations prior to your treatment.
Not being able to meet your surgeon face to face before the day of the treatment is a big warning sign. Laser Eye Surgery stays with you for life. And so you want to know you can build a relationship with your surgeon, not only to put your mind at ease before the big day, but for the months and years ahead.
Do the staff members speak English?
Many clinics now have doctors, surgeons, and staff who have experience speaking English and treating international patients. However, not all do, and this still doesn’t account for what can often be significant cultural differences.
Language and cultural barriers can make it difficult to feel completely comfortable with your treatment. Effective communication is fundamental to quality healthcare, and so without it, it can easily lead to problems.
Do the clinic and surgeon have good reviews?
Today, it’s easy to check the reviews of clinics online before you choose a clinic or surgeon. However, reviews that are verified by an independent body may be more difficult to come across.
The next best thing is a personal recommendation from someone you trust. This is rarer for clinics and surgeons abroad, with many people returning and not being satisfied with the level of care they received. It’s much easier to find someone who has had a great experience in the UK.
Does the country have healthcare regulations?
As mentioned, some countries have much looser regulations and lower standards of healthcare when compared to the UK.
This affects not only the level of training of surgeons and the quality of equipment, but also the care and attention of the clinical staff. All of these factors mean that more complications—such as corneal ectasia, epithelial in-growth, and dislocation of the flap— arise from Laser Eye Surgery abroad.
Find out more about Laser Eye Surgery in the UK or book your consultation today by getting in touch with our friendly team of clinic coordinators.